Three and a half years after the onset of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, its ramifications continue to reverberate across the world, but as one would expect, especially in Japan.
A quick roundup of some recent Fukushima-related news:
Two Japanese economists released their study this week showing that financial costs of the accident are now at 11 trillion Yen, or about $106 billion. That’s about twice previous government estimates.
But even that understates the real eventual cost. According to the Japan Times, their study, for example, “does not include costs for the final disposal of radioactive material from cleanup work, while the compensation and plant decommissioning expenses are expected to increase down the road. A separate estimate puts the cost of decontamination work as high as ¥5 trillion, double the professors’ figure.”
The eventual amount of compensation to victims of the accident remains unknown and is dependent on a number of factors–for example, how many cancer cases actually occur that can be traced to the accident.
And a Japanese court decision this week could also increase compensation costs. The court ruled that Fukushima owner Tepco is liable for the suicide of a woman evacuated from her home and ordered $472,000 in compensation to her husband.
The government estimates that 1500 people in the Fukushima region have committed suicide since the accident. 50 of those are said to be directly related to the accident and its aftermath, but the actual number may be far higher. The court’s ruling opens the doors to many more compensation claims from the families of suicide victims.
Meanwhile, the government and the nuclear utilities remain stymied in their efforts to restart some of Japan’s shuttered reactors.
As Bloomberg reports today, the problem is that pesky thing known as public opinion. The public remains solidly against nuclear power and restart of any reactors, and it continues to make that clear through protests, legal actions and other means.
Even major Japanese companies–which have been portrayed in the western media as actively supporting restart–aren’t enthusiastic about the idea. Only 40% of the major companies based in the region near the Sendai reactors, which the government hopes will be the first to restart, support operation of those reactors.
One reason the public, and the companies, continue to oppose restart and nuclear power generally: the Fukushima accident just doesn’t end.
August 27, 2014
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